Taking GF Food on Package Holidays

I've been in communication with our travel agent, Thomson holidays welfare team, and the hotel we're going to, over many weeks trying to find out if its possible to get a tiny amount of extra baggage allowance to take GF foods with me. Thomson wanted to know the weight of the food. I figured I needed to know if the hotel would be willing to prepare it first (long life bread, pasta, possibly pizza) first and its taken weeks to find out. Finally got a nice email from the hotel in Turkey saying yes, we're willing to prepare your food. Calculated about 2kg for bread, pasta and pizza, and emailed Thomson's Welfare team. Got the reply today. Sorry, the cabin baggage cannot be more that the 5kg allowance, and any food you take must be in its original, unopened packaging. Not very accommodating are they? I could put the stuff in my hold baggage but it will surely get mashed to a paste. And what about the pizza I usually take on flights to stave off the hunger? How can I put the topping on it and cook it while it is still in its original unopened packaging? Whoever said that travelling abroad was easy?

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  • If you wrap the pasta package in bubblewrap it should be OK. I have regularly travelled with food in hold luggage, even crisps do OK, bit smaller than when set out, but still the taste and flavour people miss!

    Even before coeliacs I used to take sandwiches on flights and never had a problem, but usually travelling with a child. I would take the pizza and a copy of the coeliacs card celiactravel.com/cards/ in appropriate languages to airline.

  • Hi Phil, I think that it's in yours and the airlines best interests if all food taken abroad is unopened in it's original packaging, as it makes things much more straightforward for customs as it is transparent as to exactly what you are carrying.

    I agree about taking 'coeliac travel cards' and I would investigate foods that will be available in Turkey that are naturally gf. Rice will be readily available as will fresh fish and salad. Falafels are made with ground chickpeas and spices and humus is made with ground chick peas.

    And have a great holiday.

  • Hi last time I flew with Monarch they allowed extra luggage allowance for my coeliac food, they did say I would need to bring a letter from my doctor to confirm the diagnosis but never asked for it. I put my food in my suitcase and although the manufacturers said not to do this due to the pressure in the cabin but I didn't have any issues and it was fine at the other end.

    I took Glutafin fibre rolls ( the oblong shaped ones) as I find that they are ok without being heated. I also took the email from Monarch which advised they had allowed the extra luggage as I was worried that I would get to the airport only to find they weren't as accommodating.

    With regards to taking food on the plane I try to eat before setting off ( not easy I know) I am wondering whether there will be somewhere to buy a gf sandwich at the airport. I used to rely on Boots meal deals before diagnosis but was surprised and disappointed that they don't cater for the GF diet much at all as far as sandwiches go. If Boots did cater for us more it would make life so much easier when out and about, I think that I thought that they would be one of the best places due to associating them being a medical/ pharmaceutical business but they aren't very good at all.

    Have done a search and found this link facebook.com/Thomsonholiday... perhaps you could enquire here as they may be more helpful on a public forum

    I have also found this page which mentions about taking sandwiches aboard a plane etc. glutafin.co.uk/after-diagno... I don't know whether you have a meal booked on the flight but there is always the worry that you are going to find they have made a mistake and there's nothing for you to eat so maybe explain this to them.

    Good luck hope you have a good time

  • Hi, We gave up on airline meals because they are now charged as extras and we didn't think they were worth it. My wife won't eat them anyway. I've been discussing this on the Coeliak UK Facebook and it seems everyone gets treated differently. Thomson don't have a standard procedure when coeliacs book holidays. Some put food in hold baggage and it doesn't get damaged, some don't. Some get 5 or 10kG extra baggage allowance. Some take their own sandwiches on aircraft. Some countries won't allow you to take food in. Some will. A complete mess up.

    Its a shame about Boots, but I guess the gluten free sandwich market isn't as lucrative as drugs, and profit always comes before health in a capitalist world. Just look at the obesity problem in the USA. The money makers are backed by the government and its in their interest to push sugar and fat at people.

    We're off to Turkey, near Antalya. Its all inclusive. We were in Olu Denez before I got diagnosed and everything was gluten based.

    We go all inclusive not out of choice, but because if food is laid out in a buffet there is usually something without gluten somewhere, unless some kiddies have dipped a spoon in a dish of breadcrumbs then into the fluten free salad-type food. I used to look forward to holidays because I loved the chance to try regional dishes. Now I hate holidays because gluten is pushed at me from all directions, and I get sick of telling people why I can't eat it. I suppose I should go back-packing on my own, away from other people, with a supply of GF food. My wife wouldn't want to do that. The way I see it, Coeliac and socialising just don't go together unless you get lucky.

    I just got this from Thomsons. It has taken weeks of emails and now two weeks before departure they say they don't have my details.

    Thanks for your further email about your medical needs.

    I am sorry you are disappointed with the reply of my colleague, Zaheer. Regarding the additional baggage allowance you are seeking, I have spoken to our Welfare Team on your behalf but because I do not have your booking reference number or enough personal details to locate your booking, I wasn't able to address your individual circumstances with them. Their number is 0844 871 1600 and they have said if you contact them directly they will be able to look into this for you. From the emails I have access to I can't see a departure date mentioned so if you are close to departure then I apologise if this can't be arranged in time.

    Our Resort Administrator for Turkey advised us that Turkish security upon arrival into the country will require the food you carry to be sealed in the original packaging. Likewise, British airport security may not allow you to take unsealed food on-board and this is outside the jurisdiction of Thomson.

    We do offer gluten-free meals on our long-haul flights but following customer feedback we have removed all in-flight meals from our short and mid-haul flights.

    I am sorry I can't assist you further at present but if you have any other questions in the meantime please let me know. I am sorry for the confusion and the delay in answering your initial query and I thank you for your patience with us.

    I hope you have a lovely holiday.

  • Hi Again, we have been on a couple of all-inclusives since my diagnosis, these were both to the same hotel in Egypt. In my opinion this is easier than explaining to various restaurants. I haven't been to Turkey but am guessing that they will be customer focused. What the hotel I have been to did as soon as I arrived was set up a meeting with the head chef who we sat and talked through exactly what I could and couldn't eat. I met him everyday. There were different chefs on the two occasions and the second one offered to cook all my meals himself and said I could have whatever I wanted, to be honest I didn't go for this option as the invitation wasn't extended to my husband, so that was a bit awkward, it would have also meant that we were eating in the buffet restaurant every time and it could have been a bit boring for a fortnight.

    I know exactly what you mean about CD not been conducive to a social life, I had a situation last month where we were invited to a friend house who after my husband was explaining about how careful I had to be said " do you not want to come then" I decided to go but took my own meal as I thought it would be easier on the hosts and take the pressure off, however they didn't say that they would be having a starter so I sat there and watched while everyone tucked into their samosas etc. I think a lot of people think that we are exaggerating what effect gluten has on us and think we are making a fuss. Luckily my husband is very supportive.

    What I think I would do in your situation is either ring the airport or better still email them and advise you need to take something on board to eat as you are going somewhere you haven't been before and don't know when you will be able to eat again. If you ring and they give you the advice that they will allow you to take something on board then make sure you get the time you called and the persons name or take the email with you when you travel. With regards to taking the food into Turkey then if you eat before you get off the plane you might have to through the left overs away.

    I know I keep mentioning about Boots but there seems to be one in every airport and every town and their meal deals are what we used to get when we weren't getting a meal on board, have a look or ring them and see what choices they provide, I have written to them before asking about them providing more GF food but didn't get very far, I wonder whether the companies which are apparently making large profits from providing GF ( Pizza Hut and dominos) contacted CUK or whether CUK contacted them, perhaps its worth asking them and maybe they would contact Boots.

    I suppose at the end of the day what I would do is pack your food ( what about bananas), try to find something to eat in one of the restaurants before take off and if your food is taken off you then at least the flight isn't too long to Turkey.

    Hopefully by now you will have contacted Thomson's again and they will have been able to advise that they have sorted it. Hope you have a lovely time anyway

  • Hi philaustin

    As a fellow Coeliac, I didn't want to face a holiday again. Recently diagnosed, it all seemed a bit scary. However, I booked 14 days all inclusive to Marsa Alam, Egypt, with.......yes.....Thomsons. I had the same issues you are having with them, but got past them. I did speak to the welfare team and we agreed a 5kg food allowance. I had to email them with the list/weights of what I had worked out I would need - Pasta, Bread, Crispbreads. They wrote and approved this but I also had them copy in the airport checking desk so that I would not have an issue when they saw the weight was over. This all worked.

    Like many, I get my GF food on prescription. My doctor wanted £40 for a letter describing my condition, so that I would be able to 'prove' the need to have foodstuffs with me. I chose instead to take my prescription along with GF cards in Arabic. I travelled without challenge.

    I also took sufficient home made sandwiches having worked out my needs from home to the hotel. Again, I was never challenged and this worked out well for me.

    Our flight was 5.5 hours. Meals are not provided free. As I came prepared, I ate well. Thomson only have one GF option on their menu - tomato soup. So, they would hardly have a wing to fly upon if they had chosen to challenge me.

    We, and my GF food arrived in perfect health. I used socks and boxers to secure!!

    I met with the Thomson rep at resort. He had been pre-warned about my arrival and arranged for me to meet my (now) best holiday friends, Chefs Ahmed and Hamada. In fact, they were all briefed and stayed alert to my needs. the pizza chef goaded me daily........"come, I cook for you.....I kill you!! Great fun.

    Each meal time, we met and they took me through the available options-and there were plenty. Chicken, Duck, Fresh fish (even floured with cornflour). They made me sauces, all with GF products. It was great.

    They cooked my pasta for me when I wanted it. Anything I particularly fancied......even cakes and sweets, they made for me. I was really well cared for and never once did I have an issue.

    If you are always mindful of the possibility of cross contamination, such as buffet areas etc, you should not suffer. I took to turning food upside down to get to stuff at the bottom, and that seemed to work for me.

    So, in summary, having fought my corner initially, I braved a country that is not well known for its knowledge or awareness towards Coeliacs Disease. Personally, I think that any decent hotel chef or team would be able to offer a great choice of GF food for a guest. My chef friends in Egypt seemed to relish the challenge, rose to it and enjoyed producing great GF food as much as I enjoyed eating it. Have fun.....I'm sure you will be perfectly fine. Regards

    Terry

  • Thanks Terry. That is very reassuring. I feel a lot happier having read your post. THomson have finally agreed that I can have some extra hand luggage allowance for GF food, as long as I don't open the packaging and can provide a doctors letter. Jokingly I told them I only have a letter from a mister, not a doctor, but the 'mister' did my gastroscopy and has FRCS after his name. Thomson said this would be okay because surgeons are often call;ed Mr not Dr. They said that one of my many earlier emails hadn't reached the right person, which tells me that they are not organised; that thir left hand doesn't know what their right hand is doing, and they should have a system that rings some bells when coeliac is mentioned. I'm looking forward to Turkey now, and will post a report here when I return!. Its great when you can mention hotel staff by name and praise them. These guys are heroes for going the extra mile. I made sure I tipped the staff well at the end of my holiday when I had a similar experience in Jamaica.

  • Hi,

    I fell foul of customs regulations on a trip to Germany earlier this year.

    I put a sealed tin of 125g pate in my hand luggage as part of my lunch. Customs viewed this as a liquid (you can't travel with more than 100mls) and after some discussions I had to surrender it at the airport.

    Had I have had a letter from my GP stating I had special dietary needs, I probably would have been allowed to keep it. To be honest I never thought to ask the GPs about doing this.

    On balance from what other posters have written, it probably would not have been worth asking because it was a short flight and the pate had only cost me around £1.50.

    Oh well... I'm older and wiser!

    Please folks be aware of the pate rule...

  • I took a small tin of tuna and sweetcorn through an airport and declared it. They wanted to know what percentage water it contained. I didn't know. They ran some kind of swabs/scanner on it and let me through with it.

  • Hi

    I've never had a problem and iI take with me is gf bread and toastie bags, and I e-mail the hotels direct and they couldn't do enough for me if they hadn't got any gf food on the menu or I didn't like anything they would do me somthing special, the hotels were in Cyprus & Greece. And the gf option on the airline(Monarch) was better than the normal offering acording to she who must be obeyed

    regards

    Stuart

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